Kalapana Maunakea Church
14-3502 Kahoolawe Road
Pahoa, HI 96778
ph: 808 965-9961
The presdecessor of the, now Kalapana Mauna Kea First Hawaiian Congregational church was founded in July of 1823, as a mission station in Lower Puna, by the Reverend William Ellis, a missionary of the London Missionary Society, which ministered to about 700 native Hawaiians in the village of Kalapana. The first structure was built out of pili grass on the shores of Kaimu Beach, in the village of Kalapana. This structure was destroyed by a tidal wave. The second church was constructed with walls made of lava rocks three feet thick, 'ohi'a timber for the rafters and a pili grass roof. On April 2, 1868, a devastating earthquake and tidal wave destroyed the stoned structure, about the 1870's the third church was constructed with lumber purchased from Hilo and brought by a cargo ship which anchored off shore. Strong swimmers swam out to the ship and brought the lumber into shore with a roped attached about their waist.
The woodened structure was near completion when one of the builders was putting some finishing touches on the steeple, when he gazed northward and saw the peak of Mauna Kea and called out "Mauna Kea! Mauna Kea!; thus the name Kalapana Mauna Kea Congregational Church was given. About the 1900's, the 3rd building was being threatened by erosion. The church was dismantled and re-erected at a new sight, this time it was built on a stone foundation. This 4th structure remained the worship center of the Kalapana Community for 90 years, and in June of 1990 the church was destroyed by lava. in July of 1996, the 5th church was built in a new location, on property given them by the Nanawale Corporation. This structure was built by a small band of faithful members, family & friends.
One of the most prized possessions that is displayed annually by the members of the church is a Silver Flagon & Silver Chalice, an award recieved on August 1886 by Her Royal Highness Princess Lydia Namaka'eha Lili'uokalani during a Statewide 'Aha Mele Song contest competition, in which choir members of The Kalapana Church won first place that year. The Choir's name was "Kalauonaone." The inscription on the flagon and chalice reads "HE MEKANA O KE KULA SABATI, LANAKILA MA PRINCESS LILI'UOKALANI."
click here to see article by the Star bulletin on lava flow